Manichkin N. Blood as Ontological Fluid of the Afro-Cuban Witchcraft

N. Manichkin
N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Мoscow, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0001-9308-0094


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ABSTRACT. The article explores the meaning of blood in the Afro-Cuban religious and magical cults, mainly Santeria and Palo Monte. It reviews traditional concepts of blood that exist in these cults and have a predominantly African origin as well as ritual practices in connection with the phenomenology of the body. The author argues that the blood model is an agent of metaphysical continuity which allows priests and sorcerers to carry out the ritual transition between different ontological orders: the living and the dead, humans and animals. Field materials collected during 2013 and 2019 in Havana and general ethnographic sources make it possible to consider blood as a substance mainly associated with the Kalunga, the dead dynamic presence in the corporeal existence of the living. As a correlate of the Kalunga, blood is the primary agent of initiations and sacrifices united by the common logic of the holistic bodily-spiritual involvement of man in being. Such involvement implies a special sacred marking of human corporeality, carried out ritually by scarifying and uniting people and the sphere of spirits through blood. This markup is both individual and social. The blood of various living beings is ranked according to the degree of “warmth”, and the human blood is considered the “hottest”, which determines the ritual sequence and a number of prohibitions. The author of the article traces the cosmological division between witchcraft and spiritualistic practices according to the presence or frequency of blood sacrifices and the use of blood. 


KEYWORDS: Cuba, Santeria, Palo Monte, magic, embodiment, blood, initiation 


DOI 10.31250/2618-86 0 0-2022-1(15)-227-249
УДК 111.1:39 



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